Tel Aviv investment house Nessuah Zannex concurs that Bank Hapoalim is a better investment than its arch-rival Bank Leumi.

Banks analyst Ronit Goodman joined assessments by colleagues at other banks, including Tel Aviv's Investec, and suggested overweighting Hapoalim at the expense of Leumi.

She rated Leumi shares a Buy but lowered their 12-month price target from NIS 11.3 to NIS 9.23, about 21.6% above their selling price on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Bank Hapoalim's price objective is 26.2% above its selling price today.

Although Goodman is confident that Leumi will weather the tough times perfectly well, she writes, Hapoalim is in better shape than its slightly smaller rival judging by their third-quarter results.

She expects Hapoalim to present a better return on capital than Leumi in 2002, of 8.7% compared with Leumi's 8%.